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SDA sets up alternative association to champion cabbie welfare

SINGAPORE — Members of the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) have registered a new Singapore Cabbies Association (SCA), aimed at protecting the rights and welfare of taxi drivers here.

SDA sets up alternative association to champion cabbie welfare

SDA chairman Desmond Lim (standing, second from left) talking to residents in Sengkangearlier this month. The party may contest in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC. Photo: Kelly Ng

SINGAPORE — Members of the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) have registered a new Singapore Cabbies Association (SCA), aimed at protecting the rights and welfare of taxi drivers here.

The SCA will serve as an “alternative” to the National Taxi Association (NTA), said founding adviser and SDA chairman Desmond Lim, by fighting for stronger regulation of third-party applications such as Uber, enhancing training for taxi drivers and public education.

For example, it wants the authorities to push for Uber drivers to undergo formal training and comply with the same regulations as taxi drivers, and ensure Uber drivers have up-to-date Medisave contributions to renew their vocational licences.

Added founding president and SCA assistant treasurer William Lim: “The NTA is only one single association. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) and taxi companies are not taking into consideration their suggestions enough.”

Mr William Lim, a full-time taxi driver, said the SCA also intends to engage veteran taxi drivers and traffic police officers to provider training for new cabbies. The current training that taxi operators provide is very basic, he said.

The 200-member-strong association also plans to offer legal advice and financial education for cabbies, and educate the public on, for instance, the safe spots to flag cabs.

The SCA’s annual membership is open to taxi drivers who hold valid taxi driver vocational licences and costs S$60. Mr Desmond Lim submitted the application to the Registry of Societies yesterday.

When contacted, NTA executive adviser Ang Hin Kee told TODAY many agencies and authorities, including the LTA, Traffic Police and Central Provident Fund Board, work with the NTA because of its existing vast network and membership. “Importantly, there is an ongoing, continual effort on our part to reach out, so it is not a once-off event,” said Mr Ang, who is a Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio GRC.

While Mr Ang did not directly comment on the SCA, he questioned: “What do you bring new to the scene? ... I still feel it is may be more effective (if) we can channel our resources through existing networks so that (NTA) can benefit the drivers.”

Mr Ang added that the NTA is looking to leverage technology and work with companies managing third-party booking apps to facilitate better matching of cabbies and commuters.

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